Egypt last denied any support for the Ethiopian rebels; saying that Ethiopia’s government blaming Egypt for supporting outlawed rebels is not correct.
The Egyptian ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement on Monday that “Egypt respects the sovereignty of other countries and does not interfere in its inner affairs”.
Ethiopia government spokesman Getachew Reda told journalists in the capital, Addis Ababa, that “there is ample evidence that Egypt provided training and financing to the Oromo Liberation Front, adding “We know for a fact that the terrorist group OLF is receiving all kinds of support from Egypt”.
Ethiopia accused “elements” in Eritrea, Egypt and elsewhere on Monday of being behind a wave of violent protests over land grabs and human rights that have prompted the government to declare a state of emergency in the Horn of Africa nation.
The unrest has cast a shadow over Ethiopia, whose state-led industrial drive has created one of Africa’s fastest growing economies but whose government also faces criticism at home and abroad over its authoritarian approach to development.
Ethiopia declared a state of emergency on Sunday after more than a year of unrest in its Oromiya and Amhara regions, near the capital Addis Ababa, where protesters say the government has trampled on land and other political rights.
Rights groups say more than 500 people have died in the violence. The government says the death toll is inflated.
“There are countries which are directly involved in arming, financing and training these elements,” government spokesman Getachew Reda said, referring to the protesters, although he added that those responsible might not have state approval.
Getachew told a news conference the six-month nationwide state of emergency had been declared to better coordinate security forces against “elements” intent on targeting civilians, infrastructure and private investments.
Last week, protesters damaged around a dozen factories and equipment mostly belonging to foreign firms, which demonstrators accuse of purchasing leases on seized land.
The latest flare-up followed a stampede on Oct. 2 in which at least 55 people were killed after police fired teargas and shots into the air to disperse protesters during a crowded annual festival in the town of Bishoftu in Oromiya.
Protesters had chanted anti-government slogans and made arm gestures to symbolize repression, while some had waved flags of an outlawed rebel group, the Oromo Liberation Front.
Getachew named Eritrea, which has a long-running border dispute with Ethiopia, and Egypt, embroiled in a row with Addis Ababa over sharing Nile waters, as sources of backing for “armed gangs”, although he said it might not come from “state actors”.